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Study shows using paper and pen activates brain power

Ditching the laptop or tablet in favour of writing on physical paper is better for the brain, according to a new Japanese study.

A team from the University of Tokyo say the art of physically writing helps improve the memory.

Professor Kuniyoshi Sakai, a neuroscientist at the university of Tokyo and corresponding author of the research, said: “Actually, paper is more advanced and useful compared to electronic documents because paper contains more one-of-a-kind information for stronger memory recall.”

The trial, which proved the power of paper, involved 48 volunteers who were asked to read a fictional conversation between characters discussing their plans for two months.

The content included 14 different class times, assignment due dates and personal appointments.

The study participants were then asked to recall the fictional schedule using a series of different tools. These were paper and a pen, a calendar app on a digital tablet and a stylus, or a calendar app on a large smartphone and a touch-screen keyboard.

Although, in recent years people have been led to believe that typing using an electrical device is more efficient, the study findings found those who used the paper and pen method completed the note-taking task about 25 per cent faster than those who used the digital approach.

An hour after the volunteers had been asked to note take, they were then asked questions about what they remembered.

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner was used to monitor the blood flow to their brain as they completed the test.

Those who used the pen and paper scored much higher than the people who had relied upon the digital means. The researchers note this was because the analogue group engaged the part of their brain that is important for memory and navigation.

Professor Sakai said: “Our take-home message is to use paper notebooks for information we need to learn or memorise.”

The findings have been published in the Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience journal.

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